Louisiana board sets minimum standards for school reopenings

Coronavirus

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Teachers and students will have to wear face coverings as much as possible. Schools will be limited to visitors. And classrooms for young students could become the equivalent of a one-room schoolhouse.

Those provisions are included in new coronavirus regulations for Louisiana schools approved Tuesday by the state’s top school board.

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the minimum safety standards for schools reopening this fall a day before the deadline set by state lawmakers.

The rules include a mask mandate for students in grades 3 through 12. But that regulation has language applying the face coverings “to the greatest extent possible and practical.”

Here are some other guidelines for schools agreed upon by BESE:

  • Group sizes: The maximum group size that may convene indoors in a single room or outdoors at any time are 10 individuals (phase 1), 25 individuals (phase 2), and 50 individuals (phase 3).
  • Group composition: Younger students unable to wear face coverings or maintain physical distancing should be assigned static groups, which must include at minimum, students in grade 2 or lower. The composition of a group may change if students are able to maintain physical distancing. Students with disabilities must continue to receive special education services in the least restrictive environment possible.
  • Physical standards for use of school facilities: Groups that convene indoors must do so in a room enclosed by a wall or partition. If groups convene outdoors, each group must remain separated. Schools must limit crowding at entry and exit points to the greatest extent possible. Maximum group sizes and physical distance recommendations must be maintained. High-touch surfaces in rooms used by multiple groups must be cleaned before and after use by each group.
  • COVID-19 symptoms monitoring: Upon arriving at the school facility, each student and adult must be assessed for symptoms of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC, to include an initial temperature check. Each school must establish an isolation area for anyone showing signs of being sick, which must be cleaned after being occupied by a sick individual.
  • Face coverings: While inside the school facility, all adults and students in grades 3 through 12 must wear a face covering to the greatest extent possible and practical within the local community context. Students in grades pre-K through 2 may wear a face covering. Children under age 2 and individuals with breathing difficulties should not wear a face covering.
  • Facility cleaning: High-touch surfaces must be cleaned multiple times a day, including bathrooms.
  • Personal hygiene: Students must wash or sanitize hands upon arrival at the school, at least every two hours, before and after eating or using outdoor play equipment, and before exiting the school facility.
  • Hygienic supplies: School employees must be provided adequate access to supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, paper towels, tissues, and face coverings when needed. Appropriate quantities are to be provided according to the role, number, and age of students served by the employee.
  • Student transportation: Buses must not exceed 25 percent capacity in phase 1, 50 percent in phase 2, and 75 percent in phase 3, spaced to the greatest extent possible according to the current reopening phase.
  • Determinations of student placement in a distance or in-person education program: Determinations are made in consideration of the student’s unique academic, social, emotional, familial, and medical needs, in consultation with the student’s parent or custodian.
  • Exceptions: LEAs will address medical or disability exceptions on an individual basis in accordance with local policies.

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